Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Palestinian State?

The following is a report from David Dolan, a former CBS news correspondent who now reports news from Israel. He has been a guest on my radio program several times. I am taking the rare step of posting David's article as I find it illustrative of something I have thought for some time. So much is made about Israel slicing itself to bits to give the Palestinians a "state" of their own. Anyone ever notice that these people seem totally incapable of governing themselves? They're masters at rioting and killing, but doing something contributive and constructive? I'd like to see it.

Of course, they will try to blame Israel for it all, but Israel is not responsible when these thugs riot and kill each other every day. If they want a state, let's see some of that energy used now for violence instead used to build roads, schools, hospitals, and other constructive projects. If they can't do that, then they don't deserve a state (For the record, I don't support the Palestinian state idea for biblical reasons..this is merely to illustrate a point).

Anyway, here is David's article. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

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HAMAS-PLO SHOWDOWN ROCKS GAZA STRIP
By David Dolan

As the Palestinians teetered on the brink of civil war during May, Israel’s
new Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, held his first inner security cabinet
meeting focusing on escalating tensions with Iran. This came one week after
Israel’s UN ambassador—responding to a deadly Palestinian suicide terror
attack earlier in the day in Tel Aviv—warned that ominous war clouds are
forming over the Middle East, generated by hostile actions and words coming
from Iran and Syria, supplemented by the Al Qaida, Hizbullah and Hamas
terrorist movements. Towards the end of May, Olmert traveled to Washington
to hold his first official meeting with President George Bush, focusing on
the growing crisis in the Palestinian zones and the Iranian nuclear threat.
Soon after he returned, Iran’s proxy Hizbullah force launched a major
rocket attack upon army bases and civilian communities in northern Israel,
dramatically illustrating growing tensions in the region.

Fierce armed clashes broke out in the Israeli-evacuated Gaza Strip mid
month between members of a new Hamas-run security force, loyal to
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, and Oslo peace
process-authorized security forces commanded by overall PA leader Mahmoud
Abbas. The gunfire exchanges further intensified after unknown assailants
attempted to assassinate the head of the PA Intelligence services in the
Gaza Strip, Tariq Abu Rajab. Hamas agents were believed to be behind the
bombing of an elevator shaft in the Intelligence headquarters building in
Gaza City, which instantly killed one of Rajab’s bodyguards and left seven
others, and the main target himself, seriously wounded.

Rajab is a close friend of Abbas, and a well-known fierce opponent of
Hamas. However, Hamas denied that it was behind the blast, which was
instead claimed by a previously unknown group calling itself, “The Al Qaida
Organization in the State of Palestine.” Israeli officials said this was
another worrisome sign that the Iraqi Al Qaida branch has fulfilled its
stated goal to establish terrorist cells in the Gaza Strip. The group,
known to be allied with Hamas, also issued a written threat to murder
Abbas. The threat later prompted an Israeli government decision to send
sophisticated weapons and security equipment to aid Palestinian bodyguards
protecting the beleaguered PA leader.

Abbas had earlier voiced his strong opposition to the establishment of the
3,000 member Hamas armed force, which was placed under the direct command
of the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry. Abbas also refused to cave in
to Hamas demands that all PA security personnel, estimated to be some
70,000 men, be placed under Hamas control. The PA leader is said to fear
the 3,000 recruits are but the first installment in much larger
paramilitary force that Hamas intends to set up in order to undermine the
current Oslo-sanctioned security force. Although he promised he would not
allow civil war to engulf his people, Abbas—himself the target of at least
two known assassination attempts in recent months—is obviously well aware
that two “official” rival armed forces operating in the Gaza Strip, one
stemming from the PLO Fatah movement and the other from the militant Muslim
Hamas group, is a sure recipe for intense violence ahead, if not all out
civil war.

KILLING EACH OTHER

Internal Palestinian clashes further intensified after the failed
assassination attempt upon the PA Gaza security chief. Members of the new
Hamas force traded fierce gunfire with PA paramilitary policemen for
several hours near the Parliament building in the center of Gaza City. The
site of a number of foreign consulates as well, the crossfire caught a top
aid to the Jordanian ambassador walking in the area, who was instantly
killed. Jordan’s King Abdullah strongly denounced the killing, and called
for calm to prevail in the PA zones.

Israeli analysts said the Hashemite monarch is justifiably afraid that the
violence will not only spill over into Jordan’s former West Bank (where
Fatah forces are significantly stronger than in the Gaza Strip) but also
into his own country—with its majority Palestinian population divided
between Islamic fundamentalists who identify with Hamas and backers of the
more secular PLO Fatah movement that Abbas heads. This came after
Jordanian officials revealed that Syrian agents had been caught attempting
to smuggle weapons into the country, believed to be headed for Hamas and Al
Qaida underground terror cells that have orders from government leaders in
Damascus and Tehran to stir up trouble in Amman, with the eventual goal of
toppling the Western-leaning Hashemite regime.

Tensions flared still further on May 24th after Muslim gunmen shot and
killed the top commander of all PA security forces in the central Gaza
district, Habil Hodhod, who had been leading the confrontation with Hamas
forces. In revenge, masked PLO gunmen seized three Hamas fighters outside
a mosque, killing one of them and wounding the other two. This was
followed hours later by a disturbing sign that the fundamentalist Islamic
movement may ultimately emerge completely victorious in its battle with the
more secular and moderate PLO Fatah group. Around 1,000 men wearing Fatah
uniforms marched down the streets of Gaza City with banners declaring they
were switching their loyalty to the radical Hamas group. The next day, a
Hamas militiaman was killed and eight Fatah supporters wounded in yet
another round of intense gun battles between the rival forces.

BACK TO THE BALLOT BOX?

Intensifying armed PLO-Hamas clashes and signs that the Fatah movement may
be falling apart prompted PA leader Abbas to make a surprise and dramatic
announcement on May 25th. He told Hamas PA government officials that if
they do not quickly agree to allow him to conduct further peace
negotiations with Israel according to principals established by the late
PLO leader Yasser Arafat, he would attempt to prevent a full-scale civil
war by calling a national referendum sometime in July. Palestinian voters
would be asked to decide whether or not the PA should formally abandon the
Oslo peace process accords with Israel and revert to all out warfare with
the Jewish state, or return to the peace process path that was frozen when
massive Palestinian violence began in September 2000.

Abbas said he would draw up a document spelling out the Palestinian
Authority’s final positions and demands regarding the establishment of a
Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, with a portion of
eastern Jerusalem as its capital. If the proposal was rejected by a
majority of Palestinian voters—thus essentially confirming that the January
Hamas electoral triumph was not just a fluke but a real reflection of
public opinion—he would bow to Hamas demands to destroy the accords.
Analysts said Abbas would undoubtedly resign if he lost the referendum,
probably leading to the election of an Islamic militant to head the PA.

The bold gamble caught Israeli officials by surprise. However PM Olmert
indicated it was actually in Israel’s best interests to know for certain
whether serious peace talks with moderate Palestinian partners are possible
or not, and such a national vote would make that clear this summer.
Meanwhile Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya signaled a slight moderation
in the official Hamas position that making lasting peace with Israel is
forbidden by the Quran. He told reporters that Hamas would work to put a
permanent halt to all Palestinian terrorist attacks upon Israel if Olmert
agreed to evacuate every centimeter of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem’s
entire walled Old City—a demand he knew would be rejected by the new
Israeli Premier who intends to formally annex at least a third of the
disputed territories, and keep all of the Old City under Israeli control.

BUSH BACKS OLMERT’S PLAN

While the internal Palestinian clashes were escalating, Ariel Sharon’s
successor was visiting the American capital city, where he held long
meetings with President Bush and other senior government leaders, and also
addressed US legislators in the Congressional chambers on Capital Hill—an
honor only accorded to America’s closest allies. The two leaders held a
joint press conference after their White House meeting, where Bush
surprised many Mideast analysts by expressing full support for Olmert’s
controversial “Convergence Plan” to carry out further unilateral
withdrawals from Palestinian-dominated land north and south of Jerusalem,
and to then draw up Israel’s final borders without Palestinian input.

Bush commended the Israeli leader for his “bold ideas” after making clear
that America’s “preferred option” is still a negotiated settlement, as
Olmert had earlier stated as well. Until Bush publicly supported the
Israeli leader’s planned unilateral moves if no viable Palestinian peace
partner emerges in the coming months, US officials had expressed strong
reservations about further one sided Israeli action, holding out for a
resumption of joint Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations instead. Olmert
later told Israeli journalists that he was “very satisfied” to receive the
President’s endorsement, which some American analysts said reflected Bush’s
conviction that Hamas will not change its basic positions and will continue
to dominate Palestinian politics for some time to come.

In his official speech the following day, PM Olmert told the assembled
senators and congressmen that Israel would be a “willing partner in peace
with the Palestinians” if they really wanted to end their long and bitter
conflict with the world’s only Jewish state. But with radical forces on
the ascendancy in the Palestinian zones, Olmert indicated that he sees no
other choice than to unilaterally draw up Israel’s final boundaries in the
disputed hills of Judea and Samaria, Israel’s ancient biblical heartland.
“Our deepest desire is to build a better future for our region, hand in
hand with a Palestinian partner, but if not, we will move forward, but not
alone.” The last comment was an apparent reference to desired American
support for such a unilateral move, which is bound to be rejected by the
entire Arab world and most other countries on earth.

Jerusalem’s former mayor received a sustained standing ovation when he
vowed that Israel would “not yield to terror.” This came after Olmert
referred to Daniel Wultz, a Florida teenager who perished in mid-May from
severe wounds he received during the Passover holidays when a Palestinian
terrorist attacked a restaurant in Tel Aviv. The 16 year old American,
ordering food near the suicide bomber, was severely wounded in the stomach
and elsewhere while visiting Israel with his father. Daniel was related to
Eric Cantor, a prominent Jewish Republican congressman from Virginia.

Israel’s new Premier plans to shift his diplomatic efforts to Europe to
gain broader international support for his withdrawal plan. He is
scheduled to visit the UK and France in June. Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni
will support his efforts during a speech before the European Union
Parliament in Strasbourg, and then hold meetings with her foreign minister
counterparts at EU headquarters in Belgium. The Israeli government efforts
are designed to lessen stated EU opposition to the unilateral Convergence
Plan, with European officials particularly opposed to Olmert’s declared
intention to establish final Israeli borders somewhere in the disputed West
Bank.

MORE VIOLENCE IN LEBANON

In what was widely alleged to be a Mossad undercover response to April’s
deadly Tel Aviv terror attack that has so far claimed 11 innocent lives
(with others still hospitalized in critical condition), a powerful car bomb
killed Nidal Majzoub on May 26th, a top commander of the Palestinian
Islamic Jihad wing stationed in Palestinian refugee neighborhoods in
southern Lebanon. The group, which receives most of its funding and
operating instructions from Syria and Iran, claimed responsibility for the
Passover atrocity, as it has for over six other homicide attacks carried
attacks since early 2005.

Two days later, major clashes erupted between Israeli and Lebanese Shiite
forces along the Israel-Lebanon border, where thousands of Hizbullah
militiamen are stationed. After dozens of Hizbullah mortar shells and
rockets reigned down on several Israeli communities and army bases all
along the border, Israeli Air Force jets and attack helicopters were
ordered to respond more powerfully than at any time since army troops were
withdrawn from the troubled country six years ago. They not only struck
known Hizbullah positions all along the border—reportedly killing a number
of Hizbullah fighters and wounding many others—but they also bombed two
bases belonging to the radical Palestinian Popular Front group based in
Damascus. One of the bases, located just a few miles south of Beirut, was
believed to have been struck to send a loud message to the Lebanese
government to quickly reign in the rogue fighters attacking along the
border with Israel. The Air Force strike on the other base, a mere three
miles from the Syrian border, was designed to send the same message to the
Assad regime in Damascus.

The Lebanese government, at least, seemed to quickly get the message.
Fearing further escalation of the conflict, officials in Beirut requested
an immediate ceasefire via United Nations channels, although they later
protested what was termed “Israel’s warlike aggression” in response to
Hizbullah’s assaults. The truce went into effect later the same day after
senior Israeli government officials accepted the offer, halting artillery
and air bombardments of Hizbullah positions. Two Israeli soldiers and at
least two Hizbullah fighters were killed in the exchanges.

The fierce May 28th action began when Hizbullah forces suddenly opened fire
during the morning at an Israeli army base, wounding one soldier.
Subsequent assaults on several border kibbutz communities prompted a
general alert, sending thousands of Galilee residents scrambling into
sweltering bomb shelters. The Hizbullah operation was interpreted by army
leaders as probable revenge for Nidal Majzoub’s death two days earlier.
Israeli analysts say the militant Lebanese Shiite group has been working
ever more closely in recent years with the radical Palestinian Sunni
Islamic Jihad terrorist network at the behest of Iran and Syria.

Responding to the Hizbullah attacks, PM Ehud Olmert warned that Israel
would respond even more intensely if Iran’s proxy Lebanese force continued
firing on civilian and army positions in the Galilee panhandle. Speaking
to reporters in Jerusalem, Olmert said Hizbullah would “receive a clear and
harsh response with no hesitation if they do not stop," terming the attacks
"provocative and dangerous."

Many Israeli analysts say a major Israeli military “clean-out operation”
against the radical Lebanese border force is long overdue. In fact,
security sources say such action has been planned two times earlier—during
the 2003 US-British invasion of Iraq and in early 2005—but was postponed
for various reasons. Many anticipated that a reelected Ariel Sharon would
launch such action this year, but some are uncertain that Olmert intends to
follow through since he hopes to carry on with his unilateral withdrawal
plan, which could be scuttled by such an operation since it has a high
potential to lead to direct Israeli clashes with Syria, if not an all out
war between the two neighboring Middle East countries.

A leading defense expert in the opposition Likud party, the former chairman
of the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee, Yuval Steinitz, maintained that
the relatively tough Israeli military response should have been directed
almost exclusively at targets in the Lebanese capital city, instead of
mainly upon Hizbullah positions. He averred that the only effective way to
fight a terrorist organization in a neighboring country was to attack the
national interests of that country, prompting government officials
themselves to take action to rein in illegal forces operating there.

Just two days before the short but intense battle, Hizbullah leader Sheik
Hassan Nasrallah vowed that his group will continue its “jihad struggle”
against the dreaded Zionist entity. He also vowed to raise funds to help
keep Hamas in control of the Palestinian Authority. He was speaking at a
rally in the biblical Lebanese town of Tyre to mark the sixth anniversary
of what he termed “Israel’s defeat” in southern Lebanon. He also pledged
support for Iran in its “struggle with the international community to
fulfill its right to produce nuclear energy,” which Israeli leaders in May
again stated was actually a clandestine nuclear weapons program that will
have to be dealt with sooner or later if international political
negotiations over the serious issue continue to produce no positive
results. At his joint press conference with PM Olmert, President Bush
stated that “all options remain on the table” if negotiations fail.

As continuing violence and strife troubles the biblical Promised Land, it
is good to recall that it is the Lord God of Israel who pledged to restore
His ancient people to their land inheritance in days before Messiah’s reign
from Jerusalem: “Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, oh virgin
of Israel.” (Jeremiah 31:4).

6 comments:

Rob said...

I wonder what would have happened if the Israeli government hadn't started occupying Palestinian Land after ww2? We would we still be in the mess we're in today if Israel had abided by the agreement?

Rob

SolaMeanie said...

Why am I not surprised you'd take that tack? :)

I do not subscribe to the error of "replacement theology," which believes the church has replaced Israel in God's economy. The Abrahamic covenant is still in force and Israel has the biblical right to the land. This plays hard into eschatology as well.

I will be the first to say that I do not agree with everything the national government of Israel has done throughout the years. They are not regenerate believers and act accordingly. However, at Israel's founding, it was the Arab side who refused to go along with the partition agreed to with the UN. They wanted all or nothing and immediately attacked Israel. Their mentality hasn't changed. Their so-called "peace" is the peace of the Quraysh..only to last long enough until they can take it all.

I know too much history, my friend.

Rob said...

Hey Sola,

I think you misunderstood. My question was more around, why can't everyone play nice in the sandbox. It was nothing provactive.

Rob

SolaMeanie said...

Did I misunderstand? You singled out Israel's behavior after World War II. That's hardly asking why EVERYONE can't play nice in the sandbox.

See why postmodern lack of precision and clarity is a bad thing? Imprecision leads to all sorts of maladies. :)

Rob said...

Sola,

Nice. Let me clarify a little more. Your post was on the Palestinian issues after ww2 up to the modern day. So I thought I'd say I wonder what would've happened if Israel had of not expropriated the West Bank. It was an attempt at balance. I'm not blaming the Israeli's over the Palestinian's like some of my liberal brethren.

That's right, modernsim never led to any maladies? Colonialism worked well for everyone! :). Have a super day. BTW, I responded to you at eNo. Check it out, I'd be interested to hear your response.

Rob

SolaMeanie said...

I think I understand. It is always fun to wonder "what if." Next time, please elaborate a bit more. Being cryptic is fun in certain circumstances, but it does breed misunderstanding. :)

I think its important that we view geopolitical events through the prism of Scripture, especially in the Middle East. History's denouement will take place there, you know. Unfortunately, we have all let the media, biased history and the opinions of the UN color our views somewhat. That land belongs to whom God says it belongs. That will not change no matter what is decided in New York, Washington, Oslo or Brussels. In fact, the Word says the nations will be judged for "dividing His land."